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People At Every Level Willing To Learn Skills For Their Career: CEO, Degreed

"Our goal is to make sure no one, and I truly mean no one, in today’s workforce becomes irrelevant after a mere 5 years in the workforce, due to a lack of new skills", says Chris McCarthy, CEO of Degreed

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Degreed's lifelong learning platform has curated content for skills everybody wants to build or needs to build to stay relevant. Often, corporations get sucked into the millennial euphoria and tend to believe that old dogs cannot learn new tricks.

Chris McCarthy, CEO of Degreed talks to BW Businessworld about learning and training in an organization, which helps to revive careers of employees leading them to success.    

How different is training and upskilling mid-level managers who might not be so willing to learn things?

The key to most learning and training strategies is that the knowledge of your staff is your greatest strength. If CEOs and business leaders rely on any one group over others to get talent with the skills they need for their future, they won’t succeed. The key is to make workplace learning an integral part of the job for everyone. Empower your workforce to learn by providing them with a platform, opportunities, time for learning and let them make choices about their own learning paths.

To stay genuinely competitive—to grow your talent base—you need to focus on developing new experts, on helping everyone on your team close their personal skills gaps and master specialized capabilities. And the way to do that is by encouraging them to “own” their professional development every day. 

Those who are unwilling to learn new things will fall behind and those willing to learn will stay future proof in their careers and for their companies.

How has the learning requirements changed over time? How do senior level employees fit in the workforce when millennials are being fancied?

Work looks a little different today. Careers can be longer by 30 to 40 years, tenures are shorter, and skills stay relevant for less time. Based on LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report, the average skill has a shelf life of five years. Our goal is to make sure no one, and I truly mean no one, in today’s workforce becomes irrelevant after a mere 5 years in the workforce, due to a lack of new skills. That goes for managers and millennials alike. We believe people want to develop their skills for the future: whether they are just graduating from college and looking to land their first job, want to get better at the job they already have, or seeking new skills for their career of the future.

Degreed is constantly working with the most innovative companies such as Airbnb, Boeing, Unilever, and others, to future-proof their business by up-skilling their most valuable assets: their employees. All people want to learn informally, in the same ways that they already are: picking up news from social media, sharing recommendations with one another, accessing online sources, articles and podcasts. 

How are the skill gaps in the workforce identified? How does the skill gap hierarchy shape up?

Sixty-four percent of CEOs feel they must upskill or reskill 25 percent of their workforce over the next five years for their companies to stay relevant. With that in mind, the most successful employees in today's workforce will be those who focus on building skills for the future - using whatever resources are available. These employees will feel more integrated into the company and more invested in its future, and therefore more content.

Organizations can answer the call by creating systematic approaches to identifying, measuring, and developing emerging skills, innovative companies are building a learning culture that attracts and engages next-generation talent. We conducted a study a couple of years ago asking workers if they had $1,000 in a new benefit what would they want their employer to spend it on. “Help me learn a new skill” came in first over everything including 401k, food or travel stipends.”

The process starts at the top. CEOs must determine the expertise needed to win in their industries. Looking at the skills your competitors are building up and hiring for is part of it.

Then, leaders of organizations within the business must make sure their staff has the right skills to carry out the strategy. This requires analyzing where the strong and weak points are in their teams and going through frequent assessments as they carry out training and hiring efforts.

This correlation also gives individual workers a way forward in their careers. They can consider their own goals, see what skills businesses are seeking, and go about developing the skills that will set themselves on the right path.

Has a global skill certification become indispensable in the current employment scenario?

According to IBM’s 2018 C-Suite Study, one of the key things that “reinventor” companies do differently is they invest more of their time, money and energy into building skills and systems that are tightly aligned to their strategies. They’re also twice as likely to invest in continuously improving their people’s skills (as opposed to delivering training only once in a while to a select group).

Degreed helps its clients adopt the Lumina Foundation’s Connecting Credentials Framework and Degreed’ proprietary Skill Review and Skill Certification tools in order to quantify skills.

By quantifying skills into a consistent, data-driven, user-centered way, business leaders can analyze, strategize and visualize if they have the right amount of the right skills in the right place in their organization. Companies that create skills data unlock cost-saving opportunities such as more efficient hiring, assigning the right experts to the right projects, and efficiently building skills for the future. The adoption of a shared currency of skills inside of individual companies will become operationally essential and will proliferate across firms and geographic markets that wish to stay ready for the future.

How are technologies shaping up the learning scenario? Does it bring in more flexibility?

The big shift that’s happening is two-fold: new technologies are introducing entirely new ways to learn, and new research is providing great insight into the ways in which people acquire new knowledge.

Some people prefer learning in a more traditional college structure, but others want something different. This new era helps put learners in the driver’s seat, giving them options for different ways to develop new skills that they’re excited and passionate about.

These tools give educators the opportunity to make learning more engaging and lasting. Corporate leaders can put these new systems to use to help people gain the skills they need.

Administrators, thanks to technology like API’s, don't have to suffer from one tool that doesn’t really do the job. Instead, they can combine the best of breed solutions that have different functionalities to form the most effective learning ecosystems possible. This idea of a learning ecosystem indicates that companies will not have just one learning tool, but rather a collection of tools that can easily be plugged in or unplugged via API or future connectivity methods to adopt the latest technology with greater agility.

What are some of the biggest challenges for employers in training their workforce, aligning them to the organization goal while maintaining gender diversity?

One of the biggest challenges for employers in training their workforce has been traditional learning courses, meaning formal “one-size-fits-all” training or learning materials. Traditional learning courses are slow-paced (it takes months to set up training, bring in coaches or training experts and gather a workforce together to participate), expensive, and does not uphold diversity standards as it cannot meet the needs of individual learning preferences, questions, or needs. 

Luckily with the advancement of technology, more nimble, user-driven learning formats are now available. Kelly Palmer, Degreed’s CLO, has told me that “acceleration, digitalization, and automation are three trends in the world of work that are pushing people to learn new skills continuously and quickly.

With today’s available technology, many of the challenges companies once faced in training their workforce have been alleviated. Skill acquisition has never been more cost-effective or efficient. There are truly thousands of free or low-cost options for learning, and many platforms like Degreed that centralize access to those sources.